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Border Patrol Agents Mark Garcia and Josue Gonazalez

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, TX

On May 12, 2014, a U.S. Border Patrol team of six agents were working in the Del Rio Sector’s Eagle Pass area in Texas when they received a report that a large group of adults and minor children were crossing the Rio Grande River. Recent rains caused the river to flow higher and swifter than usual.

The agents were able to apprehend an initial group who had successfully crossed the river without harm. They were then informed that another group appeared to be in extreme duress with some becoming stranded under the Port of Entry Bridge, while others were seen floating uncontrollably down river. Several agents attempted to throw rescue ropes to these subjects, but the swift current made that effort impossible. They were able to enter the chest-deep water and pull the entire group to safety.

Agents Garcia, Vera, and Gonzalez made their way underneath the Port of Entry Bridge, where one subject was clinging to a pillar in the middle of the river. When their attempt to rescue this individual by passing him a rope failed, Agents Garcia and Gonzalez entered the chest-deep river again and attempted to swim to the stranded subject, but they became exhausted due to the rapid flow and depth of the river.

Agent Vera cast a rope to the two struggling agents and pulled them back to the river bank. Both Agents Garcia and Gonzalez were still determined and made another attempt at the rescue. They tied a rescue rope around their waists that was secured by Agent Vera. Agents Garcia and Gonzalez then walked further upriver, reentered the water, swam with the current to go further out into the middle of the river, and were ultimately able to reach the young woman in distress. With the assistance of agents on the riverbank, they pulled her to safety.

Media Release:

A group of people standing together in a row at the Badge of Bravery awards ceremony. Some are holding award plaques.
From left: Matthew Hudak, Acting Chief, Del Rio Sector; Border Patrol agents Josue Gonzalez and Mark Garcia; Ana Maria Garcia, South Texas Regional Director for U.S. Sen. John Cornyn; Anthony Scott Good, Division Chief, Laredo Sector. (Photo credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, www.cbp.gov)